• Helena

Balance Your Agni with Claire Paphitis, The Ayurveda Coach

Updated: Mar 24


Claire Paphitis, AKA The Ayurveda Coach, is a practising Ayurvedic Consultant, and author of ‘Balanca Your Agni - An Essential Guide to Ayurveda’ (Ebury, 2020). She is available for expert comment and bylines.


Claire Paphitis is a fully qualified Ayurvedic Consultant, trained by one of the foremost Ayurvedic Doctors in Europe, Dr Deepika Rodrigo. She studied under Dr Deepika at the highly respected Ayurveda Institute UK, where she graduated with High Distinction.


During her practice, Claire found people were drawn to Ayurveda but didn’t know how to apply it to their lives and were confused by so much conflicting advice and emphasis on understanding one’s ‘Dosha’ (Ayurvedic Body Type).


In her first book 'Balance Your Agni – An Essential Guide to Ayurveda' (Ebury, 2020), Claire takes a ground-breaking approach by asking the reader to focus on their Agni or ‘Digestive Fire’. Taking one verse from the ancient Ayurvedic texts as her starting point “An imbalanced Agni is the root of all disorders” she explores this theme through fresh eyes in a way that is simple to understand and follow. In this expert guide, Claire revolutionises the teachings of Ayurveda, with her unique approach to this very current but often confusing subject.


Ayurveda is successful in treating a wide range of conditions including: ​ ​


Allergies

Asthma

Insomnia

Digestive issues/IBS

Fatigue

Stress

Infertility

Menstrual problems

Menopause symptoms

Low libido

Anxiety

Joint & back pain

Skin conditions - Eczema/Psoriasis

Weight loss & Diabetes



Read on to find out more about how Ayurveda can help identify, mitigate and relieve symptoms of chronic digestive issues and even lifestyle complications, such as stress.


AYURVEDA FOR DIGESTIVE HEALTH


In Ayurveda, when the digestive fire, or Agni, is affected by incorrect lifestyle and eating habits it means the digestive process takes a knock. Not only does an incorrect Agni give rise to toxins but it weakens the entire function behind the digestive process itself. This can lead to a wide range of gut health problems - including common issues such as IBS (or ‘Grahani’ in Ayurveda).


Claire offers a simple answer: correct and balance the Agni, by removing the foods and lifestyle habits that caused the imbalance in the first place. This is where Ayurveda really comes into its own, with very clear guidance on the kind of foods to eat depending on your dosha, (Vata, Pitta or Kapha).


VATA


Imbalanced gut symptoms could include

Dry skin, dry hair, being prone to constipation (and often constipation followed by a very loose bowel), anxiety, insomnia and difficulty sleeping and possibly losing weight or difficult keeping weight on.


Remedy

To correct the Agni, Vatas should include foods that have more sweet, sour and salty tastes, use a very lubricating oil such as sesame oil both in their cooking to lubricate internally, but also in body massage externally. They should also include warming spices in their cooking such as fresh root ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and cumin to aid the Agni in the digestive process. They should avoid cold food and drink as this will only weaken the Agni.


PITTA


Imbalanced gut symptoms could include

An excess of heat and acidity, reflux, heartburn, extreme thirst, hot flushes and indigestion as well as very loose and frequent bowel movements.


Remedy

The way to treat this type of IBS is to reduce or remove the incorrect foods and replace with more cooling foods with sweet, bitter and an astringent taste. Cooling herbs include: ground coriander, fennel, fenugreek, parsley and fresh garden mint. As well as making changes to food, these individuals need to address stress levels and adapt to taking life a little easier.



KAPHA


Imbalanced gut symptoms could include

Heaviness, lethargy and a ‘sluggish’ and slow digestion. Stools will be heavy, slimy and perhaps contain mucous. Elsewhere in the body there is likely to be a feeling of heaviness and mucous too and perhaps excess fluid.


Remedy

To balance and take these heavy toxins out the body, plenty of warming spices are needed such as turmeric, black pepper and ginger. Increasing intake of foods with bitter, pungent and astringent tastes is also vital - while cutting down on the sweet, sour and salty foods. An increase in movement will also be helpful, so try and get in at least 30 minutes of walking per day.



AYURVEDA FOR STRESS RELIEF


Ayurveda views everyone as a unique individual and there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. So when it comes to stress, different body types or ‘doshas’ will respond in different ways.


  • For Vata, individuals stress will often develop as anxiety or fearfulness

  • For Pitta, stressful situations will see them grow in irritability and anger.

  • When Kapha types are under stress, it can lead to an increased need for food, usually sugary food, and rapid weight gain.

The herb Brahmi is excellent in helping to combat stressful periods - an adaptogen which can help lower cortisol. Massaging Brahmi oil into the head and temples is a safe and effective way to help feel more relaxed and calm. At bedtime, massage the feet with warm Brahmi or sesame oil - this practise helps ground energy in the body to relieve stress and aid restful sleep.


For a quick stress-buster, try a tea made with chamomile and rose. Simply steep half a teaspoon of each of the dried herbs in a cup of boiling water for five to ten minutes, strain and drink warm. Chamomile works on nervous system receptors to induce relaxation while rose petals contain flavonoids which directly target the production of the stress hormone cortisol.


ABOUT CLAIRE


Having suffered as a young woman, with migraines, Claire enjoyed a brief interlude with Ayurveda whilst studying at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music and graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree and later a Masters Degree (she plays the violin and piano).


Her turning point however, was her mother’s diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer:


“After her diagnosis, mum and I had shared recipes and the latest ‘health crazes’ – anything we could try to feel healthier and stronger and like we had some control over what was happening. It wasn’t long before I rediscovered an Ayurveda book, and like a lightbulb moment I realised that was my path. Everything flowed so easily from that moment on, I found myself at the Ayurveda Institute in South London and amongst a community of the most caring and dedicated doctors and professionals who have been quietly and effectively healing people through Ayurveda for the past 25 years. They humbly shared their wisdom and knowledge with us in the form of the true and authentic teachings of the ancient texts and made them relevant for the disorders of the 21st Century. Sadly, my mum eventually died of cancer, which made me even more determined to commit to do something with my life that would make a difference. And so here I am, forever a student of Ayurveda for healing and balance.”


For further information, expert comment, byline or review requests, please contact:

Zoja Minic

+ 44 (0) 7715244678

zoja@whitehair.co

www.whitehair.co